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7 Tips for Preparing for the SAT

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Developed by America’s College Board, the SAT is a widely-used standardized test. Its purpose is for colleges across the country to gauge the readiness of high school students to begin collegiate studies. Based in part on what you score in this test, you could gain admissions to the college of your choice. The SAT measures the candidate’s mathematical, writing and comprehension skills in the form of a series of multiple-choice questions. 

When it comes to college admissions, your SAT score, high school GPA and class rank, interview performance, essays and letters of recommendation determine where you get accepted. So yes, you may feel a bit of pressure to prepare for the SATs and get a good score. But don’t let this be a source of stress—it’s not your whole story. Plus, with these simple tips, you can set yourself on course for doing great. 

  1. Register Early to Give Yourself Plenty of Time for Studying

SATs are offered seven times a year, though tests are being postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. You can, therefore, easily pick a date and give yourself ample time to thoroughly prepare. Check out these 2020 SAT dates and register in good time to boost your chances of passing. Late registration deadlines are included here as well. 

  1. Familiarize Yourself with What’s on the Exam

There are generally two sections in this test: mathematical questions and evidence-based reading and writing. The math section is 80 minutes long and has two sub-sections, one in which you can use a calculator and another in which you can’t. The reading and writing test lasts for one hour, 40 minutes in total, with 96 questions to be tackled. There is also an essay section that is optional and graded separately. By far, the best way to familiarize yourself with the SAT format is to practice as much as you can. 

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice makes perfect, and this is oh, so true with SATs. The beauty is that you can get sample tests online quickly. Take advantage of this easy resource to do full-length tests while timing yourself. This preparation will help you get comfortable with having to respond to questions within a limited timeframe. It will also help you gauge which sections or questions you should devote more time to. If you feel you need a little extra help, you can enroll for classes focused on SAT preparation. Some high schools prepare their students for this with the PSAT exam. You can use your preparation for this to come up with an effective study plan for the real deal. Or, you can make use of the practice questions freely available on the College Board website.

Another tool you can readily find online to help with your preparation is flashcards. These allow you to boost your grasp on specific areas of the exam. You can create them online or by hand. Note that it is more beneficial to grasp a concept rather than cram information into your head. 

  1. Work on Your Mental Math

Remember, we mentioned that there’s a sub-section of the math section where you won’t be allowed to use a calculator. Improving your mental math is, therefore, a worthwhile endeavor. Practice questions will do you a world of good in this regard. You can also use the flashcards mentioned above to boost your memory of standard math formulas. 

  1. Have a Study Partner

Two heads are better than one. A study partner can help you better grasp mathematical concepts that may be Greek to you. Even if you’re the one giving them a leg up, you learn better by teaching others. When you’re tempted to end your study session early or get distracted, they will push you.  

  1. Read Often

The SAT includes a reading section where you will read passages and answer related questions. It also has a language test and the optional essay section mentioned earlier. Reading will help you by improving your grammar and range of expressions. It will also increase your speed of comprehension. 

  1. Have a Good Night’s Sleep and a Filling Breakfast

Proper exam preparation includes ensuring you are physically prepared for the grueling three-hour session ahead of you. You need to make sure you get enough sleep so that you’re fresh enough to concentrate fully. Your brain also needs a solid breakfast to function optimally. 

In the End, it’s Simple

 Sitting your SAT will set you back more than $60, so you must give yourself every chance of getting the score you want. Register early and give yourself enough time to read and practice extensively. However, don’t be discouraged if you don’t do well on the exam. You can keep preparing and take the test again.

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